Historical Keynotes on Bishnupriya Manipuri Language
- “There can be no reasonable doubt that a great Aryan wave of very pure blood passed through Manipur into Burma in pre historic time. I see traces of this in the finely cut features seen now and then among the Manipuris” – Gazetteer of Manipur by Captain E. W. Dun, Page 15.
- “ A tribe known as Mayang speaks a mongrel form of Assamese known by the same name..They are also known as ‘Bishnupuria Manipuris or Kalisa Manipuris” – Linguistic Survey of India, 1891. Compiled by Sir G. A. Greirson, Vol V, Page 419
- “They (Mayangs) amongst themselves speak their own language, which is dialact of Hindee” – An account of the Valley of Manipore by Mc. Cullock, 1849.
- “ There is,moreover, an Aryan dialect called Mayang still spoken in Manipur, the headquarters of which are two or three plain villages near Bishnupur ” – Gait’s History of Assam by Shri Padmanath Vidyavinode,1908.
- “By degrees the Meiteis became dominant and that name was appliled to the entire colony. It is highly probable that these hordes oven-an a country that had been previously occupied by people of Aryan blood known in Western India and to the bards…The present population of Manipur includes a tribe called Meiung who speak a language of Sanskrit derivation they are now in a servile condition performing the duties of grass-cutters to their conquerors” – Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal by E.T. Dalton, 1872, page 48,49.
- “ There is a also a degraded class called the Kalachya or Bishnupuria ..They speak a language which is different from that of the true Manipuris” – Assam Census Report by Gait.
- “Mayang,one of the language spoken in the polyglot state of Manipur, May, however, be classed as a dialect of this language” – Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol I, 1907.
- “ In 627 A.D. Khgenba introduced the Meitai Language as court language in place of Bishnupriya or Kala-chaia language.”– The Background of Assamese culture by Raj Mohan Nath,, page-87).
- “Among the manipuris there is community called Mayang Kalichas who are more dark skinned than the Meiteis” – Religion and Culture of Manipur by Dr. M. Kirti Singh,1988,page 53.
- “It is quite probable that Khala-chais are the first cultural race in possession of the Manipur valley, and they were connected more with the neighboring kingdom of Kamrupa than with other countries, and that is why their language is more akin to Kamrupi” – The Background of Assamese culture by R. M. Nath, 2nd edn. 1978, page 86.
- “Among the Kshatriyas there is a community known as Vishnupriya( Vishnupuria) Manipuris.” – Religious development in Manipur in the 18th and 19th Century/ Dr M Kirti singh, page 20
- “.. So. in Manipur in spite of Devanagari scripts which the kala-chaias might have been using, the Meitai when they came into power introduced the new scripts.” -The Background of Assamese culture by R. M. Nath, 2nd edn. 1978, page 90.
- “ The Manipuris who have been Hinduised are worshippers of Bishnu” – Sylhet District Gazetteer, 1970, page 105.
- “ Manipuris are divided into two sections: Bishnupriya and Meitei” (English rendering from original Bengali ) – Aranya Janapadey by Abdus Satter, 1974, page 296.
- “ Bishnupuria Manipuris identifies themselves as Ksatriyas; they are pure Vaishnavs; they do not even touches wine or meat“(English rendering from original Bengali) – Purbobongo O Assam by Shri Krishna Mohan Dhar, 1909, page 106,107.
- ” Except the Bengali speaking Hindus and Muslims,there is two community in Barak valley called Bishnupriya Manipuri and Meitei Manipuri. The difference of languages exists in these communities.” (English rendering from original Bengali ) – Weekly Desh, june 19, 1989 , An article by Dr. Dhirendra Narayan Majumdar.
- “Manipuri is another cast of this region. They are divided into two tribes – Bishnupriya and Meitei.” (English rendering from original Bengali ) -Report of National Aboriginal Roundtable Meeting, Dhaka, Page 32.
- “These people had Indo-Aryan features and called themselves Bishnupriyas. Long before their exodus they had lost control of Manipur to the rival clan of Meiteis. In their adopted land their lives and limbs were safe; but their language and culture began to lose ground against those of the majorette. Meanwhile, the Meiteis in Manipur became vindictive and imposed a de facto ban on Bishnupriya language and custom. The Bishnupriya Manipuris were caught between a rock and a hard place. Today, young Manipuris are no longer sure of their cultural identity.” -An Article By Syed Zainul Akmal Al-Mahmood , Published in the Daily Star Weekend Magazine in the Jan 21st issue, 2000.
- “The manipuris residing in Cachar district are divided into two distinct Sub-groups, viz, Meithie and Bishnupriya” – Letter of Commissioner for Linguistic minorities in India, dtd 29 August,1973
- “ The Bishnupriya are known as the Khala chais.They were the first ruling race of Manipur.” (English rendering from original Bengali ) – Aranya Janapadey by Abdus Satter, 1974, page 297.
- “ The Manipuris divided into three main groups – Bishnupriya, Meitei and Pangans” (English rendering from original Bengali ) – Moulvibazar Zelar Jonojibon by Prof Rasamoy Mohanto, Page 86.
- “ Probably most controversial class of people having no homeland of their own, subsequently loosing their identities are the Bishnupriya Manipuris” – Tribals and their Culture in Manipur and Nagaland by G. K. Ghose. Page 169.
Manipuri denotes two linguistic groups: Meitei and Bishnupriya Manipuri
The Manipuris, from a linguistic point of view, are divided into two groups, namely – the Meiteis and the Bishnupriyas. The Meiteis entered Manipur from the east; their Language is of the Tibeto-Burman group. The Bishnupriyas entered Manipur from the west; their language is of the Indo-Aryan group. “Manipuris are divided into two main tribes – the – khalachais, who call themselves Bishnupriyas, are supposed to have been the first cultural race and the Meitheis or Meetheis, who call themselves real Manipuris are supposed to have been next immigrants.”- said Shri R. M. Nath in his Book The Background of Assamese culture. In Linguistic Survey of India, 1891 Sir G. A. Grierson recorded their Language as”Bishnupriya Manipuri”. Sir Grierson what he recorded in ‘Linguistic Survey of India’ Vol.. V, Part 1, is “A tribe known as Mayang speaks a Mongrel form of Assamese by the same name. They are also known as Bishnupriya Manipuri.” Dr. Suniti kumar Chatterji also calls the Bishnupriya Manipuri (BPM) language simply “Bishnupriya” or “Mayang”.But DR KP sinha says, “Mayang” is a misnomer for this language. The Bishnupriya Manipuris never called themselves as “Mayang”.It is term used by the Meiteis in a degrading sense to denote Indian people outside Manipur. In Meitei, the “Mayang” means foreigner, westerner, just as the Bishnupriya Manipuris called the Meiteis “Khai”, which stands for Thai or Tribe meaning. It is, however, clear that both these two languages were formed in the soil of Manipur.
Bishnupriya Manipuri – A language originated in Manipur
Works of both Indian and European Scholars bear testimonies to the existence of Bishnupriya Manipuri in Manipur in the earliest time. The “Khumal Purana” Of Pandit Navakhendra Singh refers to the existence of Bishnupriya Manipuri language in Manipur during the reign of Garib Nawaj. Pandit Navakhendra states – “ The main stream of Manipuri, the Aryan origin people, the khumal, Moirang, Angam and Luwang who are following the Vedic cult from the epic ages being the devotees of Lord Vishnu distinguish themselves from the Meitheis”. The language originated and developed in Manipur and was originally confined to the surroundings of the Loktak Lake.
Other authorities such as An account of the valley of Manipore by Col. McCullock, Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal by E. T. Dalton and the Linguistic Survey of India by George Abraham Grierson mention that the language was in existence in Manipur before the 19th century. Dr. Grierson calls the language as “Bishnupuriya Manipuri”, while some other writers call it simply “Bishnupriya”. The principal localities where this language was spoken are now known as Heirok, Mayang Yamphal, Bishnupur, Khunan, Ningthankhong, Ngaikhong, Thamnapoxpi.
Places Where Bishnupriya Manipuri is Spoken
Bishnupriya Manipuri was originally confined only to the surroundings of the Lake Loktak in Manipur. The principal localities where this language was spoken are now known as Khangabok, Heirok, Mayang Yamphal, Bishnupur, khunan, Ningthankhong, Ngakhong,Thamnapoxpi and so on. However, later a great majority of speakers fled away from Manipur and took refuge in Assam,Tripura, Sylhet and Cachar during eighteen and nineteenth century due to internal conflicts among the prices of Manipur and due to Burmese attack. Consequently, it was difficult for the small number of Bishnupriyas who remained in Manipur to retain their language in face of the impact of Meitei, although Dr. G.A. Grierson, in 1891 found the existence of a considerable number of speakers in two or three villages near Bishnupur, locally known as Lamangdong.( LSI, Vol -V, Page 419). This Language is now spoken in parts of Assam, Tripura, Manipur( Jiribam Sub-division) in India ,in Bangladesh, in Burma and other overseas countries.
Among the countries outside India, Bangladesh has the major Bishnupriya Manipuri population. The localities are Slipur, Madhavpur, Tilakpur (Nagar), Kalaraibil, Bhanubil(Banughas), Guramara, Charapathari, Baghbati, Baligaon, Teteigaon, Mahung, Hiramati, Bendaria, Ghanashyampur, Chunarughat, Baram, Majergaon, Baluchar, Lakhat, Rajbari, Machimpur(Sylhet city), Lamabazar, North Tilakpur or Alipur, Guler Haour, Shimutala, Bamangaon, Gobindabari, Bhandari, Shukkur, Ulla-gaon, Chaygaii, Kalibari, Chaigaon, Fultali, East Tilakpur (Paligo), Digalbhag etc. Besides, there are a considerable number of the Bishnupriyas Manipuris living scatteredly in the local headquarters cities like Kamalganj, Khuwaighat, Rangamati of the CWttagoan Hill Tracts and also at Tezgaon, Manipuri-para of Dacca, the capital city of Banglades.
There are a large number of Bishnupriya Manipuri people settled in Assam ages ago, particularly in the districts of Cachar,Karimganj and Hailakandi. This people are counted as one of the major group of people in Cachar and Karimganj districts.
i) NarsingpurPargona: The Bishnupriya Manipuri village of the Narsingpur Pargona includes South Bekirpar(Gudamghat or Panibhora) Rengti, Shantipur, Bhatirgram, Khunou, T’uk Gossaipur, Ratanpur, Katakhal (East), Katakhal (West), Narnita Nagar (South-East Katakhal), Hingor Haour, Kala Haour, Rakhaltdla, Dulalgram and Malugram.
ii)MeherpurPargona: East Singari, West Singari, Bhagatpur, Chandrapur, Rengti, Bhagadahar, Nuwalam, Kalinjar, Mungor Dharam, Pithir Dharam, Chengcoorie and Kabirgang etc.
iii)JatrapurPargona: Srikona, Machughat or Ng@ongang, Dutpatil or Durpatuli, Machiinpur, Aat Dabol, Rajnagar and Bhagorangon.
iv) Silchar city: Silchar, the district head quarter of Cachar, Assam witnessed Bishnupriya Manipuri bases at Bishnupur, Vivekananda Road, Jalupara, Police Lane, Reserve, Itkhola, Malugram, Ranghirkhari and other parts of the city. Duwarbond has its Bishnupriya Manipuri people there.
v) Bikrampur Pargona: Bikrampur, Lakshmipur Sydpur, Kalain, Baropuwa or Bhubaneshwar Nagar, Bihara: Tengaragang, Burunga, Longhor, Bilorgang, Mohanpur, Sayaran and Dutpur.
In Hailakandi district, the population has a root at Hailakandi town, Sunapur, Khunou, Kshumel collectively known as Japirbond. Katakhal (Railway Jgn.), Nandirgang, Andurgang, a part of Chengcoorie and Chungduwar are included in the Hailakandi district.
Karimganj district of Assam has much more Bishnupriya Manipuri villages than that of Cachar and Hailakandi. The thickly populated laociities of the district are Garerbond, Ardpur, Kukitilla, ali, Fechuakandi, Andhurgang, Amurkhal, Dhalibil, Panchd, Pechala, Tingari, Betubari, Dullabchera , UHasnagar, Khiluwa, Fbon, Aringtilla, B askaltitta, Chamtilla, East Krishnapur, West Krishnapur, Gergoang, Rupa, Fetipat, Butuchera and Bidyanagar at the Dullabcher zone of the district, while Pratapgarh zone of the district has its Bishnupriya Manipuri populated villages of Patherkandi, Rajargang, Kachubari, Unam, Betarbon, Jrala, Katabari, Lakshmi Mamila, Bitorgol, Kanai, Nuwagang, Bazarichara, Hatikhira, Bilbari, Khalibari, SataraLokei, Burunga, Luwarpuwa, Shiborkhol or Shiborgol, Betubari, Kehurgang, Rengti, Katabari, Seipargang, Soura Lokei, Mambari, Pagang, Nalugang, Nalibari, Hingari, Paruwagang, Tinokhal, Kehurgang, Barkaligang, Narayanpur and Kholapar etc. Karimganj town, the district headquarter, had also a small Bishnupriya Manipuris population. Pipala, Rangamati,. Damchera, Uzan, Bali Pipala, Ishabeel and Nurkha falls under Rangamati sub-area.
Guwahti, the State capital of Assam, it has a number of Bishnupriya Manipuri population much more then the Meiteis. They are residing at Maligaon, Sudarshanpur, Tetelia, Hengrabari, Kahilipara, Chailha Nagar, Bamuni Maidan, Beltola, Mmapara, Rehabari, Birbari, Dakshmin Gaon, Kalapahar, Noonmati, Narengi, Basistha, Tarun nagar, Shaktigarh, Rupnagar, Azara, Pandu, Mathuranagar, Motoria, Choymal, Rajgarh road, Christianbasti, Ganeshguri, Jatia, Nayanpur, South Sharamya, West Sharaniya, Katilakuchi, Bakrapara and other places. Halfong town and its adjacent places of N.C.Hills district of Assam has a considerable Bishnupriya Manipuri population there. In Nowgaon district a place named Laupam and in Suntipur district a village called Majbat (Chatribari) has also a small Bishnupriya Manipuri population there.
In Tripura, the Bishnupriya Manipuri population localities may be divided into Dharmanagar sub-area, Kailasahar sub-area, Kamaipur sub-area and West Tripura sub-area. Dharmanagar sub-area consists with Bhagyapur, Ragana, West Ragana, Huruwa, North-East Huruwa, East Huruwa, South Huruwa, Chandrapur, Shanichera, Bhumihin Patty, Rajbari, Kherengjuri, Joynagar, Nadiyapur, Dewchera, Ramnagar, Panisagar, Sundibasa, Narendranagar, Radhekishorepur and Bainunia. Kailasahar sub-area Bishnupriya Manipuri villages are Nidevi, Assainbasti, Radhanagar, Krishnagar (Gandhari tilla), Krishnanagar (imjhargang), Sripur, Kailasahar town, Paitur Bazar (Padmar-Par), Tilakpur, Guldarpur, North Guldarpur, Choudhurypara, Kirtantali, Bidyanagar, Ishabpur, Mashawli (Tilla), Rajnagar, Banorgang, Kanchanbari, West Kanchanbari, -North-East Kanchanbari, Manu, Betchara, East Betchara, Natun. Bazar, Kanchanchara, Nepaltilla(Bazar), Indranagar, Bhumlbin COlOney, Tmghari (Kathalchara), East Kawlftm, West Kawai, Bhati Jalai, Uzan Jalai, Jalai, Bilaspur, Pechardahar, Mohanpur, East Fultaii, West Fultali, Devipur, Dhanbilasb, Jarafltali, Dalgoan and Guldarpur Nayapara–Kamaipur sub-area Bishnupriya Manipuri populated villages are Abhanga, Bar Lutma, Devichara, East Devichara9 Chankap, Bhumihin, Halhali (Hal, Lutma Colony, Jainthum, Tilagaon, Mohanpur, Rupaspur, Guwalmara and Gangwar. West tripura sub-area Bishnupriya Manipuri villages are Khas Kalyanpur, Kuwai, Kalkalia, Aga including Radhanagar, Abhynagar, Dhaleswar, Banainalipur, Barduwali, Kasba Colony, Gopinagar and Rangapaniya.
In Meghalaya, it has also Bishnupriya Manipuri population living scatteredly in the State. The localities are Forest Colony, Pynthorumkhra, Mulki, Dhanksheti, Vishnupur, Laitumkhra, Umpling, Oakland, PoliceBazarAluGudam,Nongthymau,Assam Rifle, Happy Valley, Tura, Langol, Gorampani, Nongpoh, Dawki, Cherapunjee, Mawsynram, Khleriat, Jowai and Laldrhymbai.
In Myanmar Tbangdut, Mawa Kalewa and Bumnuk etc. are the Bisbnupriya Manipuri localities. And in case of the United States of America, Canada, Germany, Middle East and Austria, there are very few Bishnupriya Manipuris recently settled there for earning a living there.
Population using Bishnupriya Manipuri language
3,00,000 in Assam
60,000 in Tripura
5,000 in Jiribam (Manipur)
12,000 in Ningthaukhong (Manipur)
10,000 in Bishnupur (Manipur)
2,000 in Meghalaya
1,000 in Arunachal Pradesh
60,000 in Bangladesh
150 in Nagaland
100 in Mizoram
100 in New Delhi
1,000 in Myanmar
2,000 in US, UK, Canada, Middle-East countries and other overseas countries.
There are about 2,00,000 people living in Manipur, mainly in Khangabok, Heirok, Mayang Yamphal, Bishnupur, Khunan, Ningthankhong, Ngaikhong,Thamnapoxpi area, who speak Meitei but are known as Bishnupriyas. And, these people, even now think that their original language was Bishnupriya. Their facial feature and dark complexion clearly indicate that they are immigrants from the west.
Dialects of Bishnupriya Manipuri
Bishnupriya Manipuri has two dialects, namely –
(1) Rajar Gang ( Kings Village) and
(2) Madoi Gang ( Queens village ).
The Madoi Gang dialect also known as Leimanai and the Rajar Gang dialect, as Ningthounai. The term Leimanai derived from Leima (queen) + nai (attendant), and the word Ningthounai from Ningthou (king) + nai (attendant). The Madoi Gang dialect is was spoken probably in the Khangabok-Heirok area and the Rajar Gang dialect , in the Bishnupur Ningthankhong area of Manipur.
As regards to the origin of these two dialects, tradition says that once the queen of Manipur requested the king to give her a few village. The request was granted and in time the language of those villages developed in a different direction; the village in the possession of the queen were known as Madoi Gang or The villages of the Queen. The other villages remained in the possession of the king and known as Rajar Gang or The villages of the King.
These two dialects, however, cannot be located in distinct areas, but exists side by side in the same localities. The Madoi Gang dialect has received a greater number of Meitei words and the pronunciation also the influenced greatly
Whether BPM is a dialect of any other language
Some scholars are inclined to call the Bishnupriya Manipuri language to be a dialect of Bengali or Assamese which was truly irresponsible. Dr. Suniti kumar Chatterjee, a recognized phonetician, listed the BPM language to be a dialect of Bengali whereas, Dr. Maheswer Neog claimed it as a dialect of Assamese. Both being not keen on the matter, did not do justice to Bishnupriya Manipuri people and the language. Their assumptions later caused contradiction about the origin of Bishnupriya Manipuri language. But the assumptions were proved to be baseless, illogical and injustice according to scientific research and observation of morphology, vocables and phonology of BPM language-
Firstly, mere similarities of a few elements are not sufficient to prove that BPM is a dialect of one or that other language. Secondly, Dr. Chatterjee in his phonetic analysis, had used a peculiar version of Bishnupriya Manipuri language, which is much different from the original BPM language that is being spoken by the Bishnupriya Manipuri locality in Assam, Tripura, Manipur or Bangladesh . Lines like “Manu agor Puto Dugo asil….” are not syntactically and grammatically the correct form of BPM. Thirdly, There are a numerous dissimilarities between Bengali /Assamese and BPM such as –
- The difference in verbal forms according to difference in gender. e.g. He goes = Ta jarga, She goes = tei jeiriga.
- The difference in verbal forms according to difference in number. e.g. I am going = Mi Jauriga, We are going = Ami Jiarga.
- BPM has a few case affixes of its own, e.g. 3rd case ending “Lo” = with, 5th case ending “Rangto” =from, 7th case ending “Rang” = in .
- BPM has got a number of affixes, i.e., Pratyas which are unprsent in Bengali/ Assamese.
- BPM has developed a complete T’o form for the future tense, e.g. I shall do = Mi Kortou, He will do = Ta kortoi.
- BPM has got some distinct pronominal forms, e.g. You= Ti, I = Mi, He = Ta etc.
- The language has two distinct dialects.
- The vocabulary of Bishnupriya Manipuri includes more than 8,000 words which do not occur in Assamese or Bengali.
So, Bishnupriya Manipuri is a complete language itself and the theory of Bishnupriya Manipuri to be a dialect of another language is completely vogue, unwise and fantastic.
Sources and References:
Big Thanks to Man of Letters.
- Dr. K.P. Sinha / Bhasatatvar Ruprekha, Silchar,1977
- Dr. K.P. Sinha / An Etymological Dictionary of Bishnupriya Manipuri,1982
- Dr. K.P. Sinha / Bishnupriya Manipuri Language, Calcutta, 1981
- Jagat Mohan Singha, & Birendra Singha The Bishnupriya Manipuris & Their Language,Silchar, 1976
- Barun Kumar Sinha, Dept. of English,S.S.College Hailakandi / Essay: Imarging Pattern of the Bisnupriya Manipury Society- A Study in Cultural Identity.
- Mahendra Kumar Singha / Prachin Manipurer Itihas,1965
- Bidhan Sinha / Cultural Heritage of North-East India, Guwahati,1999
- S.K. Chatterjee / Language and Literature of India,1963
- Edgar C. Polome / Society and Paleoculture
- Captain E.W. Dun / Gazetteer of Manipur,1885
- Sir G. A. Grierson / Linguistic Survey of India, Vol-3,1904
- Sir G. A. Grierson / Linguistic Survey of India, Vol-5,1903
- Vidyavinode, P. / History of Assam,1908
- Dr. M. Kirti Singh / developments in Manipur in the 18th and 19th centuuy,1980
- Md. Abdus Sattar / Aronya Janapade, Dhaka,1972
- Sri Sena Singha / Prachinadhunik Samkhipta Manipurer Itihas
Krïšhñä Šïñhä :
Jai Ema Bishnupriya Manipuri Emar Thar Punsi Palok.